Saturday, December 03, 2011

Just Conjecturin', Voulme 38: The Sad Case of the UB Data Leaks

Those of you paying attention in recent days have probably been aware of the leaking of approximately 3.5 million names' worth of data from the UB customer databases in recent days, for purposes uncertain but probably connected to the sale of the data for spamming use. The data may have been viewable by the public for as long as two weeks, but only in the last 48 hours or so was its public existence known.

The bad news is that the data was legitimate (although very messy); the good news is that as of earlier today, the business hosting the site finally got around to taking the site offline. The URL of the site won't be published here, and I hope those others that necessarily had access to the site in the course of determining the data authenticity and in getting the site shut down also continue to refrain from publishing it. The reason is simple: While the vast majority of the data on the site was stored in .xls or .csv spreadsheet files, there were a small handful of .txt files that may have been spidered during the time the site's contents were public. Those files, based on my own examination, contained either only e-mail addresses or e-mail addresses plus the related real-life names.

That's still too much. Elsewhere on the now-defunct site there were a handful of spamming tools and the log-in page for a low-end mass-mailing app, sure sign that this was some spammer-wannabe attempts at doing business gone awry.

What data was included? It depended on which file you looked at, but a generalized sampling from a typical file might have supplied the following:

First Name
Last Name
E-mail Address
IP Address (probably from where and when the acct was registered)

7-Digit Account Number (see notes below)
Screen Name
Street Address 1
Street Address 2
Date of Birth

Zip Code
Account Creation Date (see notes below)
(2) seldom-used fields which I believe were used to help flag internal accts; these were blank for about 99% of players

Referral Code (censored, see notes below)
Play Chip Balance (?)
Unknown Field (small whole-number or zero entry for most players)
Phone Number 1
Phone Number 2 (in almost all instances, merely duplicates Phone Number 1)

Real Money Balance 1
Unknown Field (has a non-zero balance only for selected players; it may be a Tournament$ field or something similar)
Account Creation Date (duplicate field)
Original Skin (this is "" for all accounts)

Real Money Balance 2(?) (almost but not always equal to RMB 1)
VIP Account Status (i.e.: Bronze VIP)
(2) fields appearing to be connected to bonus balances
(Probable) Affiliate ID Code -- set to "299" for most old accts.

VIP Points Balance
Time Value, Unknown Purpose (value = minutes/seconds, only shown for a few percent of accounts)
Date Stamp, Unknown Purpose (seems to be a last-logon date, but it's only present for a small percantage of accounts.)
Affiliate/Direct Sign-Up (values are "Affiliate" or "Other")

Then comes a handful of fields of unknown use, excepting one largish field where each player's approved deposit methods are listed, in string form. Here's an example of the entries:

An associated field seems to represent the customer-service worker or supervisor who approved new methods of deposit.

The fields with the "see notes below" need a bit of explanation. There is a strong indication that a lot of the old UltimateBet accounts were rolled over to the new AP/Cereus system en masse, and when that was done, the old UB accounts would have needed new account numbers, so as not to duplicate existing AP accounts. These numbers correspond well to screen names listed in alphabetical order, and the account date creation is also connected, since thousands and thousands of these bear the same dates in November of 2008. It bears all the marks of a batch rollover between the two sites, when they finally merged.

Taken as a whole, the above list represents a ton of info, but the silver lining here is that no password fields seem to be present -- not that there's any reasonable expectation of players ever being able to log in and cash out their Cereus balances anyway. Noah at S:D reported finding what may be hashed (encoded) passwords attached to a small number of accounts in some of the other files, but I haven't found anything yet. I also haven't yet identified anything that I can say for certain is an Absolute Poker account (as opposed to an UltimateBet/ one), despite Todd Witteles' claims, but there's a lot of data here and Todd hasn't shared with anyone yet the specifics of why he believes AP accounts were included.

I will update this post if I find anything more of extreme interest. And yet... there's a reason not only for this post, but for adding it to the "Just Conjecturin'" library.

As I've posted elsewhere, I was able to determine that these files were legitimate because I was able to compare them against other files I've already obtained. People on the forums are acting shocked that these files were out there, but I was already aware that there was mass grab of information in the form of these datafiles done by IDS employees in the last year or so.

One of these other files was already leaked to me, containing the first tens of thousands of accounts ever created at UltimateBet, and it's been of immense value in helping piece together some of the early relationships at UltimateBet and parent company ieLogic.

No, I will not make that file public. Don't even ask.

The thing was, I've known for months that these player files were being pirated around, spirited out of the IDS corporate offices by disgruntled workers, though I'd hear about it second- or third- or fourth-hand. This latest batch of files literally screams "customer service," offering exactly the mix of account info necessary for a call-center or chat-line worker to be able to process an accountholder's typical range of inquiries.

The surprise to me is that people think this is something new, when I already assumed the worst: When AP went belly-up for all real purpose, and stiffed its workers in the process, stuff like this was guaranteed to happen. I've also had little doubt that the AP and UB customer-data files have already been sold off in more traditional manners, time and again, and are a source of at least some of the casino spam which plagues millions of in-boxes on the web. It is what it is.

Most players are just commodities to the online sites. That's the real why and how of it. Your data is secure as long as the site rakes in money, but once the squeeze comes, all bets are off, and anything that can be grabbed and sold is usually fair game.

To those concerned about what information is out there, I understand the problem. I don't like having my phone number out there in these files, nor some of the other information, but there's precious little any of us can do about it. That it is still being trafficked and sold without our permission is inevitable, because that's what info traffickers do.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Just Conjecturin', Volume 37: The Clown Prince, err, Chairman of the Board

Time to return to the tales of AP and UB with a lighthearted look at one of the more public (and kinda pathetic) persons of the whole AP affair, one Philip Scott Tom. He's Scott Tom's daddy, and he figures in a whole bunch of entertaining stories, some directly connected to the cheating at Absolute Poker, and others not so much.

Phil Tom, as he's more commonly known, is quite the star unto himself, if you get my drift. As I hinted in a Twitter post a short while back, he might be capable of giving Doug "Toolbox" Lee a run for top toolbox honors, if Lee hasn't all but retired that honor years back.

While I'm saving some of the more serious Phil Tom stuff for the book, let's all share a moment or two and savor the man's self-aggrandizement. This is man who was the self-styled "Chairman of the Board" at Absolute Poker, and he indeed held that title, though he was wholly unsuited to the task: his alleged job duties amounted to showing up once a year to chair AP's annual board meeting, and then spending all the money that came his way.

One of the tapes I have includes a pointed conversation between AP shareholders and management bemoaning Phil Tom's negative effect on other AP executives' ongoing efforts to attract new investors, with the complaints generally categorized as having to work around a drunken Phil Tom always showing up at meetings with a hooker hanging on his arm. One need look no further than Tom's Facebook page to get a feel for his party-hardy lifestyle, and paying for it was always a big concern. Said one Vegas veteran to me, "Phil Tom is the greediest person I've ever met."

I can't vouch for that from personal knowledge, but there's plenty of evidence he's one of the most vain. Phil's way, way proud of his WSOP bracelet win, enough to have launched a site immortalizing it at Yep, that's the nickname ol' man Tom has chosen for himself.

Tom's got himself a nice sister site, which appears at, and details a bit of what he's done with his upscale Vegas home in the Scotch 80s neighborhood, which is kind of across I-15 from the Sahara. Ignoring the pool and the basketball court and all the other stuff paid for with AP money, Tom's love of golf led him to create something of a mini-golf course around his home, though one that uses real wedges and golf balls, wielded judiciously. You can read all about it here.

Now, about that "Chairman" thing. Seems the old Casa Tom used to boast a whole lot of giant AP logos, so all visitors to the place could be impressed at how Chairman Phil made all his money through this up-and-coming Absolute poker site, which was likely the fastest-growing US-facing site in percentage terms from 2004-06. Not due to Phil's contributions, of course, but in spite of them, according to other insiders. Phil was so proud of that diamond-shaped "AP" logo that he wanted to make it an endemic, instantly recognizable photo -- even without the "AP" letters on the inside. But using it with the "AP" was still good, and so he did, in several spots inside Casa Tom, and in big bold paint on the basketball court, which you can see in this historical photo from Google Earth archives, circa 2006. (Hint: Look at the lane on the west end of the court.):

Now the same shot, from a 2007 Google Earth satellite overpass, perhaps the same one Tom uses on the left side of his own LakeShore Golf page:

Look ma, no AP diamond. The big "AP" was painted over some time in late 2006 or early 2007, probably just after the UIGEA became law. Few people understood in 2006 that satellite photos are a bit like tattoos. They'll be around forever, so Phil Tom painting over the logo is understandable, if fruitless and more than a bit funny. It's even thinly possible that Phil's college friend and one-time housemate, Brian Coffey (who worked in home improvement) could have wielded the brush.

But more vain, more funny, is that Phil Tom is still today trying to create this "Chairman of Poker" persona while trying to cover up and destroy the very same AP history that might have given credence to the handle. That's not only chutzpah, but a cheap brand of chutzpah that you buy off the Wal-Mart shelves. His site shows a copyright date of 2010-2011, and one wonders what content he's trying to protect by his disclaimer at the bottom. All that stuff originated on other sites; it's not his, even if he's unlikely to get much heat from the rightful owners.

Phil Tom's connection to the story has more to do with an exploration of where the money went. Way back in 2007, during the height of the first wave of known AP cheating, there was a blatant transfer of $10,000 from the "graycat" account to Phil Tom. Odd thing: the Graycat account was Phil's, even though Scott was controlling it as part of his cheating and laundering of funds. And yet the $10K transfer to Phil stands unedited in the history:

Said one AP exec, when shown the transfer evidence: "Phil Tom was never an affiliate. That's pure graft."

Referring to yourself as the Chairman of Poker? That's a lot of chutzpah, indeed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book Update

No time like the present! And the present has been very, very busy. Folks have been wondering about the lack of posts here, but, not to worry -- work on the book proceeds apace. The majority of the book is in the tank, and we're working on the final chapters and the editing. If anything, it's turned into an even more complex and detailed story, and it's important to me and to everyone involved to get the tale right. There are so many subplots that at times it's like the old baseball saying: You can't tell the players without a scorecard. The complexity of the issues requires handling with the proverbial fine-toothed comb. As they say, it is what it is.

I'll also be venturing to Reno in a week or so for a working vacation, lugging along the laptop while I partake in other stuff as well. I'll be there starting next Tuesday the 27th and spending eight days. There's a couple or three Nevada contacts that might get a call while I'm out there, too, and if the timing is just right, I might rent a car and sneak down to Vegas to do an interview or two.

So hang in there, everyone. There's a great tale coming. I've come into possession of hours of secret tapes and documents never before published, and a lot of that will work its way into the open as well. Once we have a complete picture of what all will be included in the book's pages, then more supplemental items will once again be appearing here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Geez, Just When I Thought the Poker Spam was Slowing Down

The Manager,Audit/Account Section
Full Tiltican Development Bank.(F.T.D.B.)
Ouagadougou Burkina-Faso.

Dear Friend of Full Tilt,

How are you today? Hope all is well. Please be informed that I have decided to contact you for a fund transfer transaction worth the sum of US$ 9,300,000.00 into your reliable Full Tilt account as the sole NEXT-OF-RAIL to the foreign deceased customer of our site (an International Billionaire French Businessman not named Cyril) who was killed with his entire family by NETTELLER-TROJAN in the shadow of the Las Vegas Sands at most 5 years ago. Since his death occured, no body have show up as his next of kin for the claim because the account is undonkable. Upon the investigation I carried out from his records, I found out that his foreign business make-up recipient who would have trace the account died earlier before the deceased. Therefore, this is a confidential and sealed deal. Even Cardrunners don't know about it.

For the success of this transaction, you should apply and act as the only existing NEXT-OF-RAIL to the deceased which our crack customer-service team will replace by 2013 the deceased account information through proper documentation in position of your own Full Tilt account. This transaction is risk-free, it will never harm your good reputation in your poker society because no one can trace the account, and on the instant of the transfer of the fund into your Full Tilt account, the chapter of this transaction will be closed entirely.

Note that in a business of this nature, the bank dont want to know your difference between the deceased country or Full Tilt avatar or Rush fondness because our avatar inheritance law is against that. So, it is a preference for us achieve this success without any problem.

Please note down that once the fund get transferred into your Full Tilt account, you will take 39% of the total sum while the rest will be for me as I will arrange myself a new clever-sounding site such as Rekop, Inc.

I need your urgent response and include your private telephone/mobile numbers/account names for easy communication and a freeroll entry. Please reply if you can be trusted in this deal.


Mr Rayed Bitarius

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Just Conjecturin', Volume 36: More Norwegian Exposure

To clarify a couple of things for readers, the short piece on the corporate shenanigans of Absolute Poker appearing in the online Sunday version of Dagens Naeringsliv ( is not the major nuclear bomb against AP ownership that I referenced last time out. To view the longer and more important piece in its original entirety, you need to click on that link within the story linked above and fork over a kroner or three to DN. That longer piece appeared on Saturday and is the one really worth checking out.

A bit of backstory: DN reporters Goran Skallmo and Knut Like learned about a secret AP/Madeira Fjord board meeting being held in Toronto, and flew there to capture as much of the action as they could. In addition to a quote or two from the meeting's participants (perhaps captured unknowingly), the DN investigators also grabbed a handful of neat photos showing certain AP execs running around the office as this meeting was going on.

I have a couple of pretty good translations of the piece at this point, but for copyright reasons I can't do much more than offer brief excerpts here and there, though Goran has consented to allow me to run some of the pictures here. One of the key aspects of the DN piece is that a couple of Norwegian lawyers for the Norwegian law firm Bull & Co., particularly one Bjorn Blix, are now feeling some heat. From the piece:

Attorney Bjorn Blix rushes through the reception at the law firm of Bull & Co. During Madeira Fjords general shareholder meeting, he had refused to answer how much he and Bull & Co. has been paid by Madeira Fjord since 2008. There are millions. And officially Madeira Fjord has the no money. Then who pays Bull & Co.?

DN has been given access to informaton [that] shows that Bjorn Blix bills Madeira Fjord 3000 kroner per hour. Last fall Bull & Co. billed Madeira Fjord 550,000 dollars for one and a half months work. The payments came from several different banks in the U.S., Blix explains.

- Have Madeira Fjord accounts in the U.S.?
- No, no.
- But the transfer must show who the sender is?
- No, it does not, said Blix.
- So you simply do not know who has paid you for the assignment?
- No, says Blix and goes his way.

Lawyers are required to follow strict money laundering rules when they receive money from clients. They are supposed to know where the money comes from.


My educated prediction: More lawyers than Blix are about to be swatted.

Ah, well, on to a couple of photos. The first here is a shot of the frat boys outside their U of Montana Sigma Alpha Epsilon house, circa 2002. The unblurred faces, in order, are Scott Tom, Hilt Tatum IV, Brent Beckley and Garin Gustafson. Click on it for a larger view:

The second is a shot of chairman Ron Janusz, who doesn't own a lot of stock, per se, but is a long time friend of primary fundraiser Hilt Tatum III ("Hilt Sr.") and has served as a willing frontman for the company of late. I've heard his voice before, but had yet to match up the face:

(Both photos courtesy Goran Skallmo.)

If you visit the detailed piece, it's apparent that the DN investigators literally shot some of these photos through eyeholes and slightly-ajar doors. Continuing kudos to Goran and his crew for revealing this important information regarding AP.

* * * * *

Update: An anonymous poster (see comments) claims that the person on the far right in the frat-house photo above isn't Garin Gustafson. Without the original it's hard to say for sure, though there's a tiny chance that the photo might be available in a University of Montana yearbook circa 2001 or 2002.

If it's indeed not Gustafson, as I believe it was identified to DN reporter Skaalmo and his crew, then the likeliest person for it to be is Shane Blackford, a rich trust-fund baby and fellow frat brother who was another of the original founders. Blackford also served a very recent turn as an executive board member.

Here's a blown-up version of the face on the right, along with those infamous wedding photos which included both Gustafson and Blackford:




It still looks like Gustafson to me, though I suppose I could be argued the other way. Anyone have the original?

Monday, May 09, 2011

Announcing the Book

Dimat Enterprises, Inc. is pleased to announce the signing of Haley Hintze to author a book covering the UltimateBet and Absolute Poker online cheating scandal. The as-yet-untitled book will be released in the Fall of 2011.

Haley Hintze is a veteran writer/editor with decades of published writing credits, and at one time served as Editor-in-Chief of She reported on the Absolute Poker and UltimateBet cheating scandals for several sites, and has continued her independent investigation at her own blog,

Hintze has assembled a deep library of documents including e-mails, taped conversations, and whistleblower interviews, which detail the inside secrets and cover-ups of these ongoing scandals – much of which has yet to be released to the public. This story will show the corrupt, shady dealings of two major online poker rooms – which later joined as one -- and how they did everything they could to prevent the true stories of the cheating from reaching the poker-playing public.

Dimat Enterprises, Inc. is one of the most popular poker publication companies in the world with titles that include The Poker Mindset by Ian Taylor and Matthew Hilger, the Winning Poker Tournaments One at a Time series by Eric "Rizen" Lynch, Jon "PearlJammer" Turner, and Jon "Apestyles" Van Fleet, the Advanced Pot-Limit Omaha series by Jeff Hwang, Small Stakes No-Limit Hold’em by Ed Miller, Sunny Mehta, and Matt Flynn, and others. Dimat’s next release, The Math of Hold’em by Collin Moshman and Douglas Zare will be released in late May.


About Dimat Enterprises, Inc.

Dimat Enterprises, Inc. is a publishing company founded by Matthew Hilger in 2003 and specializes in poker strategy and content. Along with the poker books above, Dimat Enterprises, Inc. has several new releases planned for later this year including Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time Volume III and Tournament Endgame Strategy. Any authors interested in being published may contact Matthew at

Dimat Online, Inc, also owned by Matthew, operates multiple popular poker related websites focusing on online poker tournament player rankings, poker blogs and texas holdem strategy / community, ( ) aka "ITH". ITH is also the home of the original Free Poker Gift Offer. By using the ITH Poker Stars bonus, Party Poker Bonus, or Full Tilt Poker bonus, players can receive Dimat publications for free, including other poker books, DVDs, and poker chips.

* * * * * *

I'd like to thank Matthew for offering me the opportunity to craft a single, comprehensive tale of the UltimateBet and Absolute Poker scandals, even as events connected to these continue to surprise us nearly every day. There will be at least one dedicated thread for book matters over at the ITH forums, where I'll be hanging out quite a bit in the coming months.

Just Conjecturin', Volume 35: Norwegian Exposure

I've received word that a major new investigative series on the Absolute Poker scandal has dropped today on the Norwegian site, hone to the online Dagens Naeringsliv Magazine. This piece is written primarily by Goran Skaalmo and includes a ton of stuff never before made public. I have the article in hand and am searching for someone to do a proper Norwegian-to-English translation so I don't miss any of the subtleties. This is the second (and by far more important) of the two major pieces that I knew of in the works regarding Absolute Poker; to the best of my knowledge, Goran and his team have been working this for nearly three months.

This piece offers up some historical information on AP's founders that has never before been published, and it also will go a long way toward explaining properly the true nature of Madeira Fjord, which I touched on briefly last time out. It also appears that there has been a raid on the "business address" associated with one of the law firms (Bull & Co.) connected to Absolute Poker, and I'll be searching for secondary confirmation shortly.

Here's a brief taste, roughly translated, from late in the piece:

"At the Annual General Meeting in March, the shareholders know that there should be an agreement where the two founders of Absolute Poker, Tom and Scott Hilt Tatum IV, still have hidden interests in the company that controls the Absolute Poker. In a draft of the agreement, called "Share surrender agreement", it emerges that the two founders are entitled to benefits and the right to come back as major owners in Madeira Fjord or in the Portuguese subsidiary Avoine, which handles all the money flows from Absolute Poker." --

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Pauly's Blow-by-Blow of the Costa Rican Raids

I'm pretty sure that everyone who reads me also reads Dr. Pauly, but just in case, here's his read-it-as-it-happened account of yesterday's raids against the Costa Rican offices of Absolute Poker and PokerStars. The Stars part of the raid was a big mistake by the authorities. A Spanish TV station picked up some video of the raid, including a scene where they knocked down the doors at a private residence, perhaps Olman Rimola's mom's house or something like that. Rimola, a former mayoral candidate for the upscale Ezcazu enclave near San Juan with an interesting past, is an emerging figure of some importance in the overall story.

So many things are happening right now that it's hard to keep up. One should also check out the various Norwegian-language business reports surrounding Madeira Fjord's declaration of bankruptcy. Run them through Google Translate and you'll get a reasonable idea of what's going on, including a couple of scummy lawyers running for cover there as well.

Much more to follow soon.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Just Conjecturin', Volume 34: Behind the IDS Closing -- Olman Rimola vs. Paul Leggett

This one is smoking hot, and points at some of the real reasons that the IDS offices in Costa Rica (the customer support centers for Absolute Poker and have closed.

The following is a Spanish-language memo to all the CR workers, followed what can only be described as a mind-bending exchange between Paul Leggett and Olman Rimola, operational head of the Costa Rica IDS office. I will re-sort the latter section into a top-to-bottom, chronological order. It's almost too much too grasp in a single reading. English version is lower down:

* * * * *

Date: Tue, May 3, 2011 11:36 am
Priority: Normal

Estimados compaÒeros:

Desde que el problema legal de AP/UB fue de mi conocimiento, he estado tratando de lograr el pago de las prestaciones de todos los empleados de IDS por parte de las compaÒÌas cuestionadas.

Como ustedes saben, esta operaciÛn la controlan varios extranjeros, algunos de ellos ubicados en IDS y yo no tengo participaciÛn en la toma de decisiones. Me limito a seguir instrucciones.

La semana pasada, como pueden ver en este correo, ejercÌ la presiÛn m·xima para lograr el pago de sus prestaciones laborales, tal y como por derecho les corresponde.

Ellos en ning˙n momento me han depositado el dinero de las prestaciones ni los gastos de planilla de mayo. Yo los perseguirÈ con el fin de lograr este objetivo, para lo cual acudirÈ a las autoridades de los Estados Unidos y de Costa Rica seg˙n corresponda.

Es deseo de esta gente seguir con su cuestionada operaciÛn en otro lado y dejarnos guindando. Al punto en que han liquidado y recontratado a los empleados directos de Brent en Escaz˙ y los de TBT.

TambiÈn pueden leer en el email que les di tiempo hasta hoy a las 12 de la noche para resolver esta situaciÛn. En caso de que insistan en su incumplimiento, los invito a unirse a este movimiento que hoy encabezo para lograr que se haga justicia. Y si tienen alguna prueba que aportar que apoye la acusaciÛn que se est· tramitando, por favor, (redacted) saber para conducirla a la embajada de los Estados Unidos. Sigo en contacto por esta vÌa.

Lamento toda esta situaciÛn y le pido a Dios guÌa y consejo para poder salir delante.

Olman RÌmola


Alejandro "hdbets" translated this for English readers as follows:

Dear Colleagues:

Ever since i learned about AP/UB legal issues i have been trying to obtain payment for the labor benefits of all IDS employees from these companies.

As you know this operation is controlled by several foreigners, some of them inside IDS and I don’t have any saying in decision making, I limit myself to following orders.

As you see on this email, last week i put maximum pressure on them, in order to obtain payment for the labor benefits you are entitled by law.

They have NOT deposited the money for these payments nor that for May payroll and expenses. Ill pursue them in order to achieve this, for which I’ll contact both US and Costa Rica authorities as needed.

This people intend to continue with their questionable operation somewhere else and leave us hanging, this has gone to the point of liquidate and then rehire both Brent’s employees at Escazú ( an exclusive neighborhood in San Jose, Costa Rica) and those from TBT.

As you can read on the email I have given them until 12AM tonight to solve this situation, in case they continue to ignore us and breach their contract I invite you to join this movement I’m leading to help us get justice. If you have any evidence to share that could support our case, please let me know so I can see that It gets to the US embassy, ill keep in touch via email.

I deeply regret this whole situation, and i ask God for guidance to be able to get through this.

Olman Rimola

* * * * *

(Date: Sometime last week, possibly very early on 4/29)

> Hi Paul,
> The company always has deposited IDS operational expenses.
> The liquidation for all IDS employees is USD$2,750,000.
> This amount has not been deposited yet into IDS bank account.

> If next Tuesday, May 3rd, this amount has not been deposited in IDS bank
> account, I will face all IDS employees and I will explain this situation.
> After that, I will go to the US Embassy and I will contact FBI agents,
> who are right now in Costa Rica, and I will reveal all the information I
> have of Absolute Poker and UltimateBet operations, including full detail of
> original shareholders, corporate structure, processing procedures, all
> related companies, lawyers, executives, bank statements, bank wires,
> emails and instructions I have received, etc.
> FBI will be more than glad in to grant me immunity exchanging this
> information.

> Just a reminder, if anything happens to me, or people close to me, I
> have prepared 3 sets of this information which are in hands of 3 different
> lawyers, with instructions to proceed with US Embassy and Costa Rican
> authorities.

> I feel sorry about ending our relationship like this way, but my IDS
> employees are first.
> Best regards,
> Olman RÌmola

* * * * *

Hi Olman,

I am shocked by the content of your email as it contradicts everything
that you said in the meeting earlier this week.

Can you please send me the detailed list of IDS liquidations so I can
discuss this with Stuart Gordon? Once I have met with Stuart, I would be
open to another meeting with you.


* * * * *

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: Re: IDS employees liquidations
From: Olman RÌmola Castillo
Date: Fri, April 29, 2011 11:28 am
To: "Paul Leggett"

Paul, there is nothing to discuss here, that is the amount.
I know you will continue the operation elsewhere, make it easier for you.
Next Tuesday, I will close IDS; if you send the money the closing down
will be done without any problem. If you do not send the money I will
proceed as I mentioned before.
And if you try to misinform or slander me with my employees, I will
proceed too.
I am very serious this time.
Clock is ticking, don't waste your time...

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Just Conjecturin' Supplemental: Index of Entries

I get a lot of complaints from readers that earlier entries in the Just Conjecturin' Series are hard to find via the archives, so here's a list of links to all the posts. starting with the first way back in September of 2009:

Just Conjecturin', Volume 1

Just Conjecturin', Volume 2: Sebok Signing (w/ Update)

Just Conjecturin', Volume 2.5: Oh, Those UB Hand Histories

Just Conjecturin', Volume 3: The 56% Solution

Just Conjecturin', Volume 4: Inside the Excapsa Ownership Bloc

Just Conjecturin', Volume 5: If a Forrest is Silent, Does That Mean There Aren't Any Trees?

Just Conjecturin', Volume 6: More on Excapsa: The Missing 2.6 Million Forfeited Shares

Three supplemental entries connected to Barry Greenstein's early UB hand histories from the UB cheating days; Barry was among those who played against the cheating accounts:

Barry's HH's Part 1
Barry's HH's Part 2
Barry's HH's Part 3

Just Conjecturin', Volume 7: (Help Me, KevMath, Help Me... with this Numbering Mess)

Just Conjecturin', Volume 8: Make That the 83% Solution

Just Conjecturin', Volume 9: The 'Shut Up and Settle, Dammit' Scene

Just Conjecturin', Volume 10: Defaults and Dividends, Chorus #2

Just Conjecturin', Volume 11: Meanwhile, Over at Absolute Poker, It Seems Scott Tom Really Did It

Just Conjecturin', Volume 12: The Absolute Scandal and the Day Occam Rolled Over in His Grave

Just Conjecturin', Volume 13: Absolute and the Snared Screen Names

Just Conjecturin', Volume 14: More Snared Images from Absolute

Just Conjecturin', Volume 15: The Graycat File

Just Conjecturin', Volume 16: The Curious Case of 'brainwashdodo'

Just Conjecturin', Volume 17: The Real Story of the UltimateBet Refunds

Just Conjecturin', Volume 18: Fakes a-Plenty Among the KGC 31

Just Conjecturin', Volume 19: The Real Problem with the UB Hand Histories

Just Conjecturin', Volume 20: The Carpenter Connection

Just Conjecturin', Volume 21: Graycat the Traveler

Just Conjecturin', Volume 22: It's the Plane, Boss, the Plane!

Just Conjecturin', Volume 23: So What Happened to the Plane?

Just Conjecturin', Volume 24: Tying Together Some Leads

Just Conjecturin', Volume 25: Flotsam, Jetsam and Other Errata

Just Conjecturin', Volume 26: Who or What is Riviera, Ltd.?

Just Conjecturin', Volume 27: Uncovering Brainwashdodo

Just Conjecturin', Volume 28: The Brainwashdodo Correspondence

Just Conjecturin', Volume 29: Inside the Makar Email

Just Conjecturin', Volume 30: Naming Names -- Greg Pierson

Just Conjecturin', Volume 31: Intermezzo

Just Conjecturin', Volume 32: Cereusly Funny Missing Videos

Just Conjecturin', Volume 33: Down Goes Frazier... err, Cereus

I'll try to remember to update this or get a widget or something that keeps a running index near the top of the page, as TenMile noted in the comments.

-- Haley
Haley's Poker Blog

Just Conjecturin', Volume 33: Down Goes Frazier... err, Cereus

An internal memo sent out at Absolute's Costa Rican offices early this morning:

From: The Executive Management Team
Date: Monday, May 2, 2011
Re: Restructuring

As all of you are aware, action was taken by the U.S. Department of Justice on April 15th and we have closed our US-facing operations. We now have to focus our resources on developing our non-US operations and software business. Unfortunately, this also means we must immediately restructure our organization and significantly downsize our operations.

It is a very sad day for all of us, as we have worked so hard to create a truly amazing company that is filled with extraordinary people. We have always been and remain fully committed to the employees and consultants of this business.

TBT employees will be paid full liquidations in accordance with Costa Rican labor laws. Consultants will be paid severance based on length of service. IDS liquidations have been previously funded in full to Olman Rimola.

Some of you will be approached by the business for a new role with a much smaller company that is focused on continuing our non-US operations and software businesses.

Now, the worse news. This comes to me second-hand, but I believe it, even if it must be labeled "conjecture" until we know for sure: There isn't going to be any new company; the letter itself is a ruse to buy time in which the bosses are going to get the remaining funds out of Costa Rica... along with themselves. Next destination is probably Panama, where a duplicate server farm was set up years ago.

I expect that non-US players will be allowed some sort of play-through option for their bankroll balances when the remnants of Cereus emerge under a new name, perhaps late this year or in 2012, and we'll probably all be subjected to some "assets sold to XYZ Company" garbage release down the road, which is likely to be untrue. The US players? I think the plan is to let them go whistle to the DoJ for their money, and that this move also represents Absolute waving a certain middle finger in the DoJ's direction.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Just Conjecturin', Volume 32: Cereusly Funny Missing Videos

Nothing too shattering this time out, friends and neighbors, just a quick note. The eight-video series put out by AP that features Paul Leggett being interviewed by Susan Reisler, with a couple of Annie Duke cameos, had been available for almost three years on YouTube.

Guess what's been yanked down in the past few days?

Not to worry, I had asked someone to archive those a while back and I'll put them up on my own YouTube site shortly. It wouldn't do for those to disappear, and so they won't. I'll let everyone know the new account name for accessing these when I have them in place.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Just Conjecturin', Volume 31: Intermezzo

Once again, major news developments have forced a change of schedule in my "Just Comjecturin'" publishing plans. I'd hoped to have my original Volume 31 up a week or ten days ago, but behind-the-scenes events required me to hold back for a short while.

Then, of course, Black Friday happened, and things everywhere are in an uproar. I asked one of my contacts what the latest was regarding the core folks at Cereus, and he replied back: "The rats are running for cover. Not taking any calls."

It's affected some (not all) of my good sources as well, but for those who are on the right side of this, I'm pretty sure they'll realize that nothing really has changed. As I've written elsewhere, this day was always going to happen, and the charges brought in those indictments center solely on alleged illicit banking practices, no matter what other noise the DoJ proclaims. I firmly believe that events were set in motion when PartyGaming paid its blood money to the US a couple of years bac. When financial boy-toy Daniel Tzvetkoff later paid back those who turned him in by turning states' evidence, it was a fait accompli that what happened Friday... would.

Of course I noticed that Scott Tom and Brent Beckley, stepbrothers and two of the original "frat boy" founders of Absolute Poker, were among those indicted. Absolute Poker SA, as shown in the indictments, is the parent company of the Cereus Network, which in turn houses the AP and UB sites. I don't know if this scuttles the rumored plans of Victory Poker to join that network, though that's a bit of a digression.

Regarding good ol' Scott Tom, of course he's been with the company the whole time, and yes, I'm still holding that evidence in abeyance, too. There will come a time when it is made public, and it will bring into question the actions of at least one more big name. There is also one other major poker player, plus one additional WSOP bracelet winner (though not a household name), whose involvement will be examined as well.

The Just Conjecturin' series marches on. You haven't seen it here, but I've never been busier, working on it virtually full-time of late. I am in the way of knowing about a couple of significant things about to occur, perhapsjustmaybe a news story or two, and out of professional courtesy I choose to let at least the first one of those things come out before I move forward once again. So I wait, a bit longer, but I'm still working on these affairs. If those expected stories take too long to appear or seem to fizzle out, I'll go ahead at some point anyway.

I am fairly confident that Stars players will eventually receive their money. I'm a hair less confident regarding Full Tilt, though it's probably only a few percent less likely than Stars. Quite a ways down the probability chart is where I place the Cereus sites, AP and UB, and this only because of the extenuating circumstances surrounding the company. My personal opinion is that Cereus players have a less than 50% or recovering their bankrolls, but I hope I'm pleasantly surprised, despite my feeling that these players were collectively stupid and greedy for continuing to play on the network in the first place.

So it's a holding pattern here, but I'm pretty sure that May will be momentous.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Catching Up with the News

Nope, nit asleep at the switch, just handling paid priorities first while traveling much of the weekend, as I've been doing most weekends of late.

The news of the online-poker indictments had me working at a rush on Friday, as I did a last second please-hold-while-I-rewite-things in my News Briefs piece for Lou over at PPN. That's normally the most fun thing that I get to write, every other week, but I have a hunch Lou had a really nasty weekend trying to pull all this stuff together in time for his latest deadline. I figured the least I could do was making sure my small part was fit to print.

Then it was traveling to Milwaukee, from whence I have just returned, though I did spend a couple of hours up there soaking up all the news stories, including a few of those crazed threads on some of the largest discussion sites. Next weekend, northern Wisconsin; the weekend after, Michigan. Maybe some time home the weekend after that?

Who knows. It's all a blur at the moment.

I did take the time after arriving back at the apartment today to try to capture my indictment thoughts in a post over at the KAP blog. In a nutshell, this has all been destined to happen some time, as my friend the fallen lawyer F Train duly notes over at his blog. And as always, Pauly has a collection of salient links on the matter.

Times of true crisis in any bubble of influence are marked by those times when every sits around to see what happens next. That's where we are right now, and things will need to shake out some before we all have an idea as to poker's new shape. Some entities will find themselves crippled in the interim; some others will become stronger.

Me, I don't know. I can see myself losing at least one of my small remaining gigs, but that is to be expected. Some of my friends will probably taste some job-loss bitterness in the near future; been there, done that, but that won't bring those peeps and comfort or money. I can tell them that time marches on and life has a way of filling the same voids it creates, but most of them are smart enough to know that already. I've got other things to do, and if that stuff runs dry, I'll try to find something else. Or I won't.


* * * * * * * * *

A bit of flotsam to end this one. Yes, there is more "Just Conjecturin'" coming. One little funny I've been meaning to toss in is that the commentary I receive is largely, but not universally positive.

There are always those few beings out there that don't seem to like either me or what I write. One such comment, which I won't publish but include here for its gallows humor on a weekend when we can all use a bit of even the darkest type of smile:

lol Haley, can anybody possibly be as cool as you? You are so fucking awesome. My hero. {3

Nope, no sarcasm there... much. But I do what I do because I choose to do so, and trying to be "cool" is something I gave up on decades ago. I take as the true indicator of this and other like commentors' collective worth the fact that it was signed, as always, "Anonymous". And it's of course more entertaining than the "HI I like the adult site Supper hot girls" spam. Supper indeed.

Better to have guts and be disliked by some than to be an anonymous, gutless coward, but I guess that's the internet age in a nutshell. These days society trains people to faceless cowards and hide in the shadows, and I do not accept that fate.

C'mon, life, bring it on. Deal your next hand and let's go on from there.

Friday, April 01, 2011

OMG!!!! (Not a Just Conjecturing' Post)

I was working on some news briefs this morning and visited to use their currency converter tool. I had to blink about six times to make sure I wasn't suffering hallucinations.

Look who's advertising there!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Just Conjecturin', Volume 30: Naming Names -- Greg Pierson

I promised that Volume 30 would be a doozy, so let's get right to it: Greg Pierson, the President and CEO of ieLogic and Iovation, the company behind the company behind UltimateBet, was another of the likely superusers behind the scandal. This will be a long post, but in this missive you'll find a good deal of the circumstantial net of evidence pointing to Pierson, and also learn of the virtual Pandora's Box (and the very sordid key) that almost certainly triggered what would become online poker's largest cheating scandal.

Let's start here by visiting some things that I wrote, way back in the very first "Just Conjecturin'" post, back in September of 2009:

"Now, I don't think Pierson was in any way a part of the actual cheating itself."

"My guess is that Hamilton got himself into some kind of financial jam in the early '00s, and went to Pierson with a cock-and-bull story about needing to check out reports of cheating going on during the games, under the pretense that only a "pro player" would be able to recognize more subtle forms of cheating."

Right track, wrong pony. When I started the series, I didn't have much for facts on the UB side, and some of my early theories turned out to be wrong. As you'll see later in this tale, there was indeed a "jam" of some sort going on, but it appears the jam was Greg Pierson's, not Russ Hamilton's, and the solution to the problem was to enable the superusing and scrape tens of millions of illicit dollars into various endeavors or off the site in its entirety. Now comes the sordid dirt, and the part I've really put off writing about because, well, it's sad and disgusting. But it cannot help but be the key to it all, and so it must be dug back up.

Greg Pierson was an up-and-coming Internet entrepreneur in the early 2000's, and his wife, Janelle Lynn Pierson, was a Portland-area high school teacher. According to this story from The Oregonian, Janelle Pierson surrendered her license after having a year-long affair with a 16-year-old male student at David Douglas High School, where she taught. The affair ran from January through November of 2002, according to the complaint, made by the youth's parents.

Other details from the Oregonian news brief also merit mention. Note that Janelle Pierson took a medical leave from teaching in September of 2002 but continued with the affair until November, and that the affair was first brought to authorities' attention in January of 2003. Note also that a private settlement was reached in March of 2003, with the figure undisclosed. Janelle Pierson was given five years probation, ordered to attend counseling and to provide 150 hours of community service. If you'd like to browse the official settlement findings, you can click here.

But, as always, there was far more to this story. Several former UB workers have told the story about how Greg Pierson went AWOL for two weeks in early 2003. He literally vanished from the face of the earth; no one knew where he went. Two weeks later he resurfaced in Costa Rica. At the risk of being accused of some dime-store psychology, this looks to be a classic instance of "fight or flight syndrome," with Pierson temporarily choosing the latter option.

But what to do? That's where the allegations run deep. The stories shared behind the scenes allege that Russ Hamilton fronted Pierson $50,000 just for lawyers' fees for Janelle's initial defense, and one source has stated to me that there wasn't one youth involved, but two. According to this allegation, the first one was the year-long affair, the second just a brief fling, but in any event, some significant cash settlement seems to have been reached.

The timeframe of all this -- early 2003 -- shouldn't be lost on any observer of the UB scandal. By all accounts, that's when the cheating started.

So, we have evidence that Pierson was the boss of this rising Internet-security company, which may have been doing well in billings by 2003. But was there a severe cash shortage? $50,000 in cash doesn't sound like much for a man who soon would be living in a Portland manse (complete with infinity pool) that would later get feted with the line "Nice pad, Greg!" by none other than UB spokesman Phil Hellmuth.

(Update: It appears that the Piersons lived in a nice but pre-mansion house in the Portland suburb of Gresham at the time. Nonetheless, any influx of cheating money, in addition to Janelle Peterson's settlement, could have been used to buttress ieLogic/iovation finances, or to help line Pierson's bank account in advance of the later mansion purchase. The Gresham residency, in any event, does not disprove motive. -- hh)

Perhaps the mansion itself was part of the problem, and my efforts to date to obtain the exact purchase details and ownership records have been unsuccessful, in part due to prohibitive cost. Perhaps all this was pre-mansionn. But either way, there's a chance the Piersons' house was jointly owned between Greg and Janelle, though Oregon is not a community-property state. Whatever the reason, though, it appears that Pierson was highly leveraged in 2003 and not cash-flush when the settlement(s) with his wife's affairs went down.

Pierson had a ready explanation, by the way, for his two-week disappearing act. To one worker, he said, "Someone raped my wife." This turned out to be not quite true.

This bit of nastiness, I believe, is what allowed the entire UB cheating enterprise to take place. The operational bosses of UltimateBet were always Russ and Mansour, Mansour and Russ, but the software stuff was Pierson's baby. Matloubi and Hamilton may have been schemers and dreamers with big business plans, but no one has ever suggested that either of them had any programming skills. Pierson did, but he seems to have tasked a special programmer with the task of creating God Mode, and this programmer's identity remains a closely guarded secret, because other workers believe he created the software under false pretenses, being given a plausible cover explanation by the boss, Pierson. This programmer is not, however, any of the well-known programming names already connected to ieLogic/Iovation/Excapsa in various online forums.

It was Pierson who had to held have the programming reins, and who reached an agreement with Hamilton and Matloubi to allow the God Mode code to be inserted into the UB client, which in turn allowed the cheating to take place.

As we know, the cheating itself began in 2003. Money seems to have been siphoned off to help with the Janelle situation, and a couple of percent of the cheated monies probably ended up in the trust funds of one or two Oregon high schoolers. Money no doubt left the site and large suns were laundered into the pockets of Hamilton and Matloubi. And later on, more cheating money was funneled over to the next pet project, the Ultimate Blackjack Tour. Millions are believed to have been redirected into UBT operations.

There are, however, several more specific allegations regarding Pierson. Remember the first round of Excapsa stock seizures in the battle between AP and UB ownership interests? As part of the announced findings, Russ Hamilton's shares in Excapsa were rather publicly and forcibly annulled. The second round of seizures, however, has been alleged to have been stock taken from three high-ranking Iovation (Excapsa) officials:

* Greg Pierson (who is Iovation's CEO).

* Jon Karl (Iovation's VP of Corporate Development, generally considered to be Pierson's right-hand man)

* Molly O'Hearn (Iovation's VP of Operations, who first surfaced as a court-appointed trustee during the Excapsa liquidation legal proceedings)

The obvious question to ask is, "Does this mean Karl and O'Hearn were superusers, too?" The answer is probably no. The tales surrounding Karl suggest that he simply backed Pierson's stories too strongly and thereby backed himself into a corner once Pierson's lies were uncovered, and as for O'Hearn, she was allegedly tricked into signing the wrong legal document by side-switching bad-guy counsel Dan Friedberg. Karl, for his part, was generally viewed by his co-workers as the man least likely to be able to pull off a poker bluff, and has been described as too straightforward and simple to have been involved in the actual cheating.

Pierson is also reported to be the owner of one the powerful internal transfer accounts at UB, with his likely bearing the screenname "-greg-". It is believed that there were at least six such transfer accounts, the most famous of which is the "-fred-" account used by Russ Hamilton to assist in moving money around between various other cheating accounts.

What is also widely known is that in 2009, Paul Leggett and Cereus terminated their continuing payments to Greg Pierson and Iovation for the continuing use of the ieSnare product and related software. These payments are alleged to have been about $400,000 per month, and the cessation of payments coincides reasonably well with the second round of known Excapsa stock seizures. Leggett is believed to personally despise Pierson, but Leggett nonetheless chose to withhold Pierson's name from the partial lists of names leaked out via Joe Sebok, perhaps to stop from adding more color to the then unfolding settlement talks regarding Cereus's failure to keep up with payments on the Blast-Off/Excapsa note.

Given that Leggett leaked out 28 names (including lots of fakes), and that there are now at least six more real names that by all rights should have been included, the whole "lists" thing as orchestrated by Leggett and Cereus remains a sham effort, too. Yet that is a different story.

In a recent blog post: Paul Leggett said this: "However, we do believe that prior to us taking over UltimateBet that software source code records were deleted as well as other evidence." Actually it's a safe bet that Leggett knows for damn sure that this is indeed the case, and is soft-footing the issue.

Pierson has also been alleged to me to have actively deleted player accounts and possible related hand histories, prior to the merger, possibly using the same unknown programmer mentioned above. One theory is that at some point, Pierson got cold feet about the cheating and decided to cover his own tracks while leaving other cheating accounts in place that could be easily tied to others, as in those pointing to Hamilton.

Despite all this, which was clearly known behind the scenes, Pierson was not named? Could it have been because of the possible business and industry repercussions? After all, Pierson's firm, Iovation, remains a software provider to dozens of online sites, notably sportsbooks, that form the heart of the business operated through the KGC.

All this strengthens the widely held beliefs that both the Kahnawake Gaming Commission and the present-day Cereus company continue to perpetuate a massive cover-up about the real nature of the UltimateBet cheating, for reasons not yet fully explained. In this scenario, it also becomes increasingly likely that Russ Hamilton -- though indeed a primary cheater -- was tabbed to be the agreed-upon fall guy after the cash trail to accounts in his name was posted by the Costa Rican blackmailer, brainwashdodo.

I'm guessing a lot of heads will be spinning and phones will be ringing. But don't worry; when I get around to it, there's always Volume 31.

* * * * * * *

Update: Given the nature of these closet-bound skeletons, it's hard not to exclaim, "Oh, the irony!" when visiting the iovation website and seeing pressers for such events as this Thursday's "Circle of Fraud" seminar at the Wynn in Las Vegas, co-sponsored with HSN (Home Shopping Network) and Dell. Or that the website includes a blog with such entries as "Scammer Guilty of $2.7 Million Online Auction Fraud."

It reminds one of the ancient Chinese proverb to the point that any lock is only as good as the man who designed it.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Just Conjecturin', Volume 29: Inside the Makar Email

It's been a busy couple of weeks dealing with the latest revelations emerging in the UltimateBet online cheating scandal, triggered by Travis Makar's cold-call into the Donkdown radio podcast over at Donkdown Poker. Makar and the DD staff have had several contacts since then, with Makar forwarding a somewhat redacted version of an e-mail he had obtained at some point, with the e-mail clearly showing how the "God Mode" cheating ability was set up and delivered to cheating participants. A DonkDown forum member ("dougmanct") quickly helped decipher an old version of the UB client software and uncovered a hidden resource entry which seems linked to the God Mode ability. That string was "SuperAllah7642". Although this entry was changed from time to time, it now seems as though we have an answer to where the nickname "God Mode" came from -- it was a programmer's inside joke.

But that's not the point of this Volume 29. Instead, let's take a look at the image of the e-mail that Makar forwarded to Bryan Micon, which Micon then posted in this thread:

You can click on that image to view a larger version.

Let's take a look at the blacked-out bits as we also absorb the meaning of the message, which confirms various allegations that updates to God Mode were sent out via e-mail whenever the client program itself was updated. Indeed, God Mode ability was hidden within the generally download-able version of the UB client software, which is probably less shocking than it might seem when one remembers that the tool's original purpose was as an internal auditing device -- complete with either a 30-second or two-minute delay (accounts differ) -- and a lot of people could have had cause to use it in its original form. The delay was later removed and the tool was converted to its notorious cheating purpose.

'Tis true: If anyone also had the right account name(s) and password(s), one could install and run God Mode from any computer where the UB client itself was already also installed.

About those blacked-out bits.... They are clearly the e-mail addresses and actual names associated with the God Mode cheating, all in addition to Russ Hamilton, according to Makar. We also see the tags "superuser1," "superuser2" and "Programmer," which Makar probably added in via MSPaint or similar when he blacked out the names.

Let's save the "Programmer" entry for a later date. (I don't know for sure who this is likely to be at this time, anyway.) But the other two superusers? That's a different story. And now is as good a time as any to move this investigation forward.

I have very strong reasons to believe that "superuser1" will turn out to be company founder Greg Pierson, and I will devote a very lengthy Volume 30 of this series to laying out the extensive circumstantial case that points to Pierson. It's a post I've delayed writing for quite some time, partly in hopes that a true smoking gun would emerge to buttress the many puzzle pieces I've already obtained. It's also a distasteful post, as it goes into motive for the entire UB cheating scandal getting started, something no outside investigator has yet adequately explained.

I suspect that the blacked-out filename will turn out to be something that can directly tied to Pierson as well, on the order of "G_Pierson.reg" or similar. I'm quite certain that at some point an unredacted version of the snapshot Makar sent to Micon will emerge, and we will all know for sure.

Makar and others among my sources have alleged that there were three or four primary cheaters, and if we add Pierson to Hamilton, that makes two. So what about the others, and that mysterious "superuser2"?

Here's where we can take a bit of a detour. I've mentioned before that I've been fortunate to receive credible info from a number of sources, more than a dozen at past count. I've received stuff from two or three anonymous tipsters as well, including the stuff about the brainwashdodo blackmail game that Paul Leggett was finally forced to acknowledge.

In the category of "Can I really give this any credibility?" came a brief e-mail exchange with another anonymous e-mailer, who shared his own hearsay with me a year ago. He wrote this, in part, in one of our e-mails. I should also add that this source did not come across as a kook, as a few other anonymous tipsters have, and I don't count those in my running totals. Still, anonymous tipsters are often like free advice; you get what you pay for.

But here's a snippet now worth revisiting:

"I have fairly reliable information that Mansour [Matloubi] cashed out his stake in UB for $60,000,000 well before the cheating scandal broke. I'll say just that I know a lot of the same people he does and have met him a few times - and was told this by a mutual friend."

We checked back and forth to determine exactly when he heard this, and the hearsay dated from July of 2008, precisely the same time frame when brainwashdodo was playing his semiprivate games, and also about the same time that the ownership entities behind some 56% of the outstanding Excapsa general stock were leaked as part of an internal power move.

However, there was a hitch, and it also brought up a nagging question I'd had about one of the stock numbers in those proxies, specifically Matloubi's. Those proxies showed him as an owner in July of 2008, but with only three million shares (about 1.5% of the total Excapsa stock), a number which then as now seemed abnormally low given Matloubi's prominence within the company. According to my sources, Matloubi was the day-to-day operational boss, the true "manager" of the online room.

So I went back to this unknown source who nonetheless seemed to be sharing a tale, suggesting that the $60 million cash out seemed too high given the generally accepted value of the company at the time, which was about $135 million. And the tipster agreed with that part of it, writing this:

"3 million shares out of 200,000,000 - so 1.5%. Looks like he dumped a large chunk of shares somewhere, he was one of the original founders. The 60mil figure may have been exaggerated, as 2nd and 3rd had numbers often are - though I guess that still leaves him as a minority owner of the site(s) at the time of the scandal.

"Just checked my emails and my friend said exactly this "Monsour sold off his stake a few years ago for $60 million" - and email was eerily in exactly July of 2008. 2004-2006 if he owned 30%+ it's not outside the realm of possibility that he got mid to high 8 figures. I wouldn't be superusing if I had that kind of money..."

Nor would I, but money does different things to different people. There were also a couple of other interesting swirls of smoke regarding Matloubi. One was the matter of Matloubi turning down an invite to the same 2009 WSOP Tournament of Champions freeroll that Russ Hamilton was essentially barred from appearing in, while Matloubi at the time was welcome to appear but chose not to, despite this being a televised freeroll with significant image value for its participants.

I was there, one of only two writers actively covering that event, and I asked about the Matloubi no-show. The reasons told to me for Matloubi's non-appearance seemed sketchy at the time, and they haven't improved in the duration. Also unexplained and occurring in the same timeframe was Matloubi leaving the United Kingdom and relocating to Thailand. There are a couple of other significant UB investors who are either from Thailand or have spent extended time there, but it was still something worth pondering... especially since this was in the same timeframe as the David Carruthers arrest and significant news explorations of the extradition pact between the US and UK, post-UIGEA, that seemed to open the door for UK citizens and residents to be seized and sent to the States.

There was not, however, an active smoking gun of evidence pointing at "Shah". Just a lot of smoke and haze, and now we have even more of it.

Let's go back to the blacked-out bits in the Makar e-mail. I've said before and I'll repeat it here that while Annie Duke and Phil Hellmuth were prominent faces for the UB site, the evidence I've seen and the tales I've been told strongly indicate that neither Duke nor Hellmuth cheated. They didn't use God Mode, and that part of it seems clear. I bring this up because we can look at the blacked out name for "superuser2" and see that neither "Annie" nor "Phil" would fit in that spot, given the font (some form of Times Roman) and the approximate number of blacked-out letters. "Duke" is way too short and "Hellmuth" doesn't fit either, as one can easily see by this comparison of Makar's screengrab with some letters I've typed in using a slightly different version of Times Roman:

My version of Times Roman is slightly different, but "Hellmuth" clearly does not fit. "Greg" would be too short, but what about "Pierson"?

Nope, no good there, either. Now let's take a look at "Mansour" and remember again that my font version is just a hair different, as you can confirm by comparing the two instances of the lower-case "g". But this is scary close:

Beyond the size match, that could very well be an upper-case "M" peeking out from the start of the "superuser2" entry, and an "r" is one of the very few lower-case letters that could complete the name and still allow the proper leading and spacing for the following word, as it appears in Makar's e-mail. And a third point is that Makar's black-out of this name does not always go all the way up to the top of the presumed upper-case "M", and all the "short" letters in "Mansour" occur exactly where they would need to to make the black-out by Makar appear as it does. (Oddly enough, "Matloubi" is also a reasonable space-fit, but I think the middle tall "l" and concluding "i" cause issues.)

Yes, it's conjecture, not proof. It's also a bit of muckraking, and dear PRR hosts, just wait 'til Volume 30. I'm not nearly ready to indict Matloubi based on this stuff, but I will say that I had just about convinced myself that the UB cheating was masterminded by Hamilton and Pierson as the primary pair. I'm not sure as yet who could be the major fourth cheat, if there were indeed four, but I think I'm now willing to reconsider Matloubi as part of what might now seem a three-headed beast.

As always, time will tell. Motivations of those involved were destined to change over time, and the eventual revealing of the true story was always destined to happen, due to economic pressures if nothing else. I can't wait.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Just Conjecturin', Volume 28: The Brainwashdodo Correspondence

Continuing from the last time out, it was last fall when I was contacted by an anonymous source via e-mail who offered to share with me a few documents relating to the mysterious appearance/disappearance of a poster called "brainwashdodo" on the 2+2 discussion forums.

I'd already had brainwashdodo ID'd to me by this time, but I'd held back from publishing it, seeking confirmation, not wanting to accuse an anonymous man of blackmail without, as the saying goes, checking it twice. This new source and I tested each other on a few things before he decided to trust me and send three documents, two of which were clearly related to brainwashdodo. One of those was an e-mail exchange between Cereus CEO Paul Leggett and brainwashdodo, and the other was the work resume of the real man behind the "brainwashdodo", a Costa Rican former Cereus CR worker named Zoltan Rozsa.

But of course, as I also mentioned last time, it was still an anonymous source and the documents came with some strings attached. Quoting from an August 30, 2010 email:

This stays between us until I say, ok? you can talk about it just don't show the files this is the first part of trusting each other. The things I have been telling you are not what I have heard, I was there on everything[....]

I will look for the first part of the email about Paul offering the 80,00.00 because when others got involved he started to play dumb and act like he was turning it over to the authorities,he tried to intimidate Zoltan by sending his bodyguards over to Zoltans house and set in their car out front.

I've made a conscientious effort throughout my writing on the UB/AP scandals to protect my sources, and this was an anonymous source to boot, which made me more than a bit suspicious, as mentioned last time out. It seemed legit, but I really, really wanted to be sure, and I also wanted to check on the potential legal issues involved, though the crimes the e-mails seemed to point to all were alleged to have occurred in Costa Rica, per other accounts of the matter I had heard.

But it was still worth going slowly, and then around the holidays real-life matters intervened. (Hence my hiatus.) But between last fall and now, two things have changed:

1) Travis Makar, generally described as Russ Hamilton's computer guy, came forward last week with much of the information I already possessed regarding brainwashdodo's identity and motives. While there was a chance that Makar had indeed been the anonymous source that sent me the files -- and no, I don't know if he was -- it was still a second real, verifiable person that had come out with the same story. So it was good to go, in theory...;

2) And when I tried to contact my original anonymous source to verify and ask for permission, I received this bounceback:

This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification.

Delivery to the following recipients failed.

Account closed, e-mail bounced. I can't keep a continuing promise to someone who has broken the lines of communication. Misquoting from National Treasure, which was on USA again last week, "The status quo had changed."

So, without further ado, the complete transcript of the partial e-mail exchange I had sent to me, between Rozsa and Leggett. The file is in its original form except for my redacting of the actual e-mail addresses, meaning it reads backwards, with the last messages first and the earlier ones at the bottom. The smoking gun appears well down, the same message published earlier today by DonkDown Poker showing Leggett's apparent willingness to negotiate, but for a lesser price than what was seemingly paid later on to Rozsa.

The complete transcript follows. Note that Rozsa's a native Hungarian:


Gyors kapcsolatok

Zola (Hotmail)


Állapot beállítása

David Clainer
viktor rozsa
[address redacted]
Paul Meghívva

Hi Zoltan,

I was thinking about it over the weekend and I have decided to not pay the extortion money. I will not participate in the extortion because our company has nothing to hide and I think it will increase the chances of future extortion against our company.

I have submitted reports of your crimes to the OIJ. I do not think you are a completely bad person and I am hoping that you do not release any of our companies information because it will leave me with no choice except to do everything possible to prosecute everyone involved in these crimes.

This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification

Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

[address redacted]

Technical details of permanent failure:
PERM_FAILURE: Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the recipient domain. We recommend contacting the other email provider for further information about the cause of this error. The error that the other server returned was: 553 553 sorry, your envelope sender is in my badmailfrom list (#5.7.1) (state 14).

----- Original message -----

Received: by with SMTP id u13mr9106373ybc.69.1214858422556;
Mon, 30 Jun 2008 13:40:22 -0700 (PDT)
Received: by with HTTP; Mon, 30 Jun 2008 13:40:22 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: [address redacted]
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2008 14:40:22 -0600
From: "Zola (Hotmail)" [address redacted]
To: Paul [address redacted]
Subject: Re: Text Message
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
References: [address redacted]

Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Content-Disposition: inline

Hi Paul,

Believe me, I am way more confused than you are right now. Your way of
----- Message truncated -----
Hi Zoltan,

If you are saying that you are giving up on the extortion and confirming that you will not disclose the information you took from us... I am very happy to hear this.

I realize that you do not trust me, and obviously it is impossible for me to trust you.

Before you decide to disclose any information, I would just like to reaffirm that if you do release confidential company information, I will be forced to involve the police in this situation. However, I would prefer to exhaust all avenues of negotiation prior to doing this. I realize that money is important to you and the confidentiality of our information is important to us.

If you want to meet I would be willing to give you a reasonable amount of money (much smaller than the amount you requested), but I need you convince me that day that you will bring all of the important information, and you will stop with the threats and illegal activities against our company.



On 7/1/08 1:32 PM, "poker ass" [address redacted] wrote:

I tried to respond 22 hrs ago, but you have blocked my other email addresses. The message was sent below.


Hi Paul,

Believe me, I am way more confused than you are right now. Your way of handling this matter, thought me a lot about you, the most important one maybe, that I can not really trust you. It is hard for me to tell you, how to proceed, which you always politely ask me in the end of your messages. I learned, if you say there will be a meeting, than five more email/text message lather you will confirm that the priority of our meeting is very low. Than stop communicate.

I am sorry, but I can no longer be your partner of arrange meetings, or wait for a business proposals. If you have any desire to meet me, you will do it in a casual way as a friend. Give me a call when you think it's appropriate, than we will sit down for a cheviche. I will never again go to meet you in a street, or any junk food rest, had enough of those.

If you wish to sit down with me for a talk, this is how I would like to proceed.



2008/6/30 Paul [address redacted]:
- Idézett szöveg elrejtése -

Hi Zoltan,

I am currently in Canada. I am not back in CR until Wednesday morning. I am very confused by your recent emails and I do not understand what you want or are trying to achieve at this point. I am not concerned or scared by any threats that you send to me, which I think you have learned by now. However, I am willing to meet you and try to sort out this mess once and for all.

Let me know how you would like to proceed.



Válasz Válasz mindenkinek Továbbítás Paul meghívása a(z) Gmail programba

"Zola (Hotmail)" Hi Paul, This can be a bit of a disappointment to you, but I need no money fr...
júl. 3.


Válasz mindenkinek Továbbítás Nyomtatás Mail hozzáadása a Címtárhoz Levél törlése Adathalászat jelentése Eredeti megjelenítése Üzenetének szövege fura karaktereket tartalmaz?

Mail Delivery Subsystem saját magam részére
részletek megjelenítése júl. 3.
This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification

Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

[address redacted]

Technical details of permanent failure:
PERM_FAILURE: Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the recipient domain. We recommend contacting the other email provider for further information about the cause of this error. The error that the other server returned was: 553 553 sorry, your envelope sender is in my badmailfrom list (#5.7.1) (state 14).

----- Original message -----

Received: by with SMTP id h10mr1106509ybo.96.1215127689636;
Thu, 03 Jul 2008 16:28:09 -0700 (PDT)
Received: by with HTTP; Thu, 3 Jul 2008 16:28:09 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: [address redacted]
Date: Thu, 3 Jul 2008 17:28:09 -0600
From: "Zola (Hotmail)" [address redacted]
To: Paul [address redacted]
Subject: Re: Was undeliverable?
In-Reply-To: <[address redacted]
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
boundary="----=_Part_16934_ 24313566.1215127689625"
References: [address redacted]
[address redacted]

Content-Type: text/plain; charset=WINDOWS-1252
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable
Content-Disposition: inline

Hi Paul,

This can be a bit of a disappointment to you, but I need no money from you
----- Message truncated -----

Válasz Továbbítás Mail meghívása beszélgetésre

Friday, February 18, 2011

Just Conjecturin', Volume 27: Uncovering Brainwashdodo

For all things there comes a time, and now is the time to return to the ongoing scandals at UltimateBet and Absolute Poker, in a continuing attempt to out all of the crooked people involved. This time out we take a bit of a detour and explore not one of the corporate bigwigs, but rather the bit player whose personal greed ended up outing Russ Hamilton as one of the primary cheats behind the UB mess.

Hamilton's involvement became apparent after a series of posts on the 2+2 poker forums by an account called Brainwashdodo, which was posting from Costa Rica, where by 2008 (and the appearance of these posts) the call center for the combined UB/AP operation was located. Brainwashdodo's posts were suspicious from the start, not because of the explosive data within but because of the veiled threat attached that there was much more that would soon be released. It was as if 2+2 was being used as a tool of blackmail, and sure enough, the posts from Brainwashdodo soon stopped, with only Hamilton directly outed as a cheating conspirator, even though indications pointing to several others were also present.

And now, in true Paul Harvey fashion, the rest of this particular sideline story.

I've accumulated lots of sources during the past three years of investigating and writing these and other pieces, on both sides of the UB/AP aisle. People who think that such-and-such a person must be "my source" are just wrong, because my work has been an assemblage from at least a dozen well-placed people... even if none of them ever knew the whole story about everything, due to the incredibly tangled net that was in play. But as for brainwashdodo, I soon received little pieces -- first from one source, than a second... then a third. The name, the background, the story behind brainwashdodo, it all came out in little bitty chunks. He was described to me first as a $3.50 an hour customer service rep with a clue -- he knew that the stuff he had was dangerous... and it seemed he'd cooked up a plan to personally profit from a chaotic situation.

Later on I got his full name, then still later supporting documentation for the blackmail attempts. And yet I held back -- because what if it was somehow forged? The hardest of the documentation itself was received from an anonymous source, too, creating another set of concerns. I needed to know that this was indeed the story behind brainwashdodo beyond any reasonable doubt, and today, at last, that final glimmer of doubt has been removed. I will not publish that documentation quite yet, but I will say I am in possession of both brainwashdodo's personal work resume and background, and an e-mail exchange between he and Paul Leggett regarding potential "compensation" for brainwashdodo's info. I was 99.44% sure the stuff was legit anyway, but after reading a transcript forwarded to me earlier today, it's time to open it up for everyone.

That transcript was from a recent Donkdown Radio podcast were Micon and Druff were graced by a phone call from the mysterious Travis Makar, who has often been described in scandal-related postings as Russ Hamilton's right-hand man, though some of the stuff I've been told painted a different tale. I've read the transcript, and it is indeed the real Travis Makar, as he mentioned a couple of specifics that no one other than the real Makar would know. They are also different specifics than those confirmed by Mookman and RolloTomasi, who were present in the chat room during the conversation. Be it also stated here that while I have -many- sources, none of those to date include Travis Makar, unless he's one of the two or three anonymous ones that have still provided credible data. To the best of my knowledge Makar had gone completely and utterly to ground, though that now seems not to be the case.

Okay, enough of the foreshadowing and teasing. It's time to get on with.

Based on all of the evidence at hand, I can no longer see any reasonable doubt nor need to delay publication. Brainwashdodo's real identity is Zoltan Rozsa, a presumed former AP customer service worker. Rozsa is a Hungarian national who worked in Canada for several years, working as a tour guide and carpenter before becoming involved in the online-poker world, and he relocated to Costa Rica to continue working with AP.

Now on to the real dirty stuff. When the cheating scandals broke, Rozsa somehow came into possession of many incriminating documents, though I now know he was far from the only one to do so. A lot of people were (rightfully) interested in covering their own ass, and a lot of people are still sitting on caches of important information. Rozsa was not, to my knowledge, the only customer-service rep to make copies of suspicious activity, and of course many of the bigger names already linked to the scandal had their own reasons to save things as well.

But unlike many of the others, Rosza at some point decided to make use of his knowledge for personal profit. The story I was told, long before I ever received any hard documentation, went like this:

1) Rozsa went to CEO Paul Leggett looking to get beaucoup bucks in exchange for his cooperation;

2) Leggett gave the matter some thought, but decided not to pay. Leggett instead decided to try to intimidate Rozsa by hiring some thugs to sit in a parked car outside Rozsa's apartment;

-- Aside: For those of you thinking the above is beyond the pale, just let it sit for a few posts, and we'll come back to it at some point and see if it makes sense. There were some strange things going on in Costa Rica, including a couple of pathetically hilarious Scott Tom anecdotes I've yet to share.

3) Rozsa, turned down by Leggett, gets hold of Russ Hamilton instead. Hamilton recognizes that he's already burned and that there's worse dirt to come out, and he immediately calls Leggett and says, "Are you crazy?? Do you realize what he has?" In any event, though, it's Hamilton that pays some amounts to Rozsa, and Rozsa duly ceases posting on 2+2.

I had been told by one of my most trusted sources that Hamilton initially paid Rozsa $80,000 in 2008, although Travis Makar in his Donkdown call-in said that no, 80 grand was the amount Leggett wanted to give Rozsa, Rozsa wanted more, and that Hamilton paid some other amount. I have also been told that Rozsa went back to Hamilton in 2010 for a second helping and received some smaller additional payment. I have not been able to verify this from additional sources, however, though I believe it to be true.

Indeed, a lot of the apocryphal tales I've been told still need verification, though I've been able to confirm many things not yet published. It was interesting to read Makar's account of the thugs parked outside Rozsa's apartment, because I'd heard that from a source not close to Makar. While it's not proof, it's unusual to hear the same story i two different ways.

What I can verify, however, is the nature of the exchange between Rozsa, who went by the tag "Zola", and Leggett. Leggett began his denial by writing, "I was thinking about it over the weekend and I have decided to not pay the extortion money." However, the exact nature of the information nor what the proposed business arrangement Rozsa had in mind is not included in the portion of the exchange I have received. What is included, though, is that Leggett slammed the door by reporting Rozsa to the authorities, these being rather more real authorities than those purportedly notified by the Mohawks of Kahnawake in their hilarious cover-up efforts.

Leggett wrote this to Rozsa:

"I have submitted reports of your crimes to the OIJ." The OIJ is the Organismo de Investigación Judicial, Costa Rica's version of the FBI. (Whether or not Leggett actually did notify the OIJ is of course another question.)

Anyhow, knowing that the information I have is indeed legit and that the information brainwashdodo holds is also possessed by others, it's time to swing the hammer again and knock down another wall. Let's see where the rats scurry this time.